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Gainesville 12-year-old is among 22 missing Georgia children, 13 from Metro-Atlanta

Community members are preparing to unveil a new missing person banner in the heart of Gainesville on Friday.

A large poster with Maria Gomez-Perez’s photo on it will sit near the intersection of Jesse Jewell Parkway and Bradford Street.

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The 12-year-old Lyman Elementary School student lived with her father, Andres Gomez, in Gainesville when she vanished. He reported her missing on May 29.

He told Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco that he and his family are from Guatemala, and he mainly speaks Spanish. His daughter speaks both Spanish and English.

He said the Hall County Sheriff’s Office has checked sightings and leads across seven states, but none of the information has led to her location.

Wednesday, the little girl was one of 22 Georgia children listed as missing in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Database.

“My heart breaks,” said Art Gallegos, Jr.

Gallegos is a Hall County community leader who has been helping the little girl’s family in their search efforts.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation counted 1,500 missing children cases reported this year. GBI said that number shifts often due to multiple people reporting the same case and cancellations. The crime does not appear to be getting worse this year, according to GBI.


The National Center for Missing and Exploiting Children said the reasons children vanish vary from family abductions to kidnappings and online enticement.

Maria’s father said deputies are searching cell phone and social media interactions. He said they’ve followed leads and possible sightings in seven other states.

There is a $50,000 reward for the person who can return her home safely.

Wednesday, Hall County Sheriff’s Office sent out an update on the case. It said investigators are not giving up hope.

It also listed the following pointers for the community to keep in mind:

  • 𝐃𝐎 keep your eyes open for Maria. HCSO has shared photos on the agency’s Facebook, Instagram and X platforms, so you know what Maria looks like. Remember, however, her appearance (hair length, for example) might have changed in the last five weeks.

  • 𝐃𝐎 𝐍𝐎𝐓 search for Maria on your own. Even searching with groups of people is not completely safe. If you think you have seen Maria or if you have heard something about her location, please contact law enforcement immediately.

  • 𝐃𝐎 share tips if you have seen or heard something that might lead to Maria’s safe return. We ask that you share tips directly with our Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) at 770-503-3232 or Citizens may also call 911 or Hall County Dispatch/Central Communications at 770-536-8812.

  • 𝐃𝐎 𝐍𝐎𝐓 submit tips to third-party websites or social media platforms. Sharing tips with anyone other than law enforcement could delay vital information needed to bring Maria home.

  • 𝐃𝐎 be careful where you submit donations. The current reward fund for Maria’s safe return remains at $50,000. That money has been contributed by local businesses and community members who have been carefully vetted by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

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